What’s a food co-op?



A cooperative is a group of people who work together for economic benefit. Food Shed Co-op will be a full service grocery store voluntarily owned and controlled by those our Owners, who have purchased equity shares in the co-op; Co-ops are democratically governed; Co-ops are businesses, not clubs or associations; Co-ops adhere to internationally recognized principles.  

Where will the store be located?


The target location is a rectangle drawn around the towns of Woodstock and Crystal Lake. Learn more about the site selection process here.

To add your location to our market data, please sign up here with your zip code.

Click Image to enlarge map


When will the store open?


The opening date will be determined by a number of factors. The most important factor at this stage in our development is how quickly we add to our ownership base and increase capital.

The faster we are able to grow our ownership numbers, the more quickly we will be able to open the doors of our community-owned grocery store.

Click the image below to view our timeline. Our milestones and the amount of time we expect it will take us to reach each milestone were provided by Food Co-op Initiative, a 501(c)3 non-profit, whose mission it is to enable a faster and more efficient start-up process for new retail grocery co-ops.


How is this different than a regular grocery store?


Cooperatives are owned by members of the community they serve and governed democratically. They have a triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. The chart below illustrates how co-ops differ from conventional grocers. 



How is this co-op different than a buying club?


Food Shed Co-op is a community owned grocery store. Like a buying club, you will be able to buy what you want at the cooperative, but there will be no strict pick-up times and you will not need to buy in bulk. Owners and non-Owners will be welcome to shop at Food Shed.

What kinds of items will be sold here?

When Food Shed Co-op opens, what items will be sold?


Anything the owners want and will support. Your choices will not be dictated by corporate management that are not living in your community and only focused on profit. Typically, co-ops stock a lot of local, natural, organic and bulk foods and also offer natural hygiene products (like soap and shampoo).

Aren’t co-ops expensive?


Not necessarily. Co-ops usually have a lower overhead than most grocery stores and offer the capacity to buy in bulk, which can actually lead to lower prices. Some organic or other specialty foods are inherently more expensive, but owners can choose to stock and offer lower cost options as well. Co-ops strive to build community and as such are not always the lowest cost available compared to low cost chain stores which are often damaging to communities and ultimately have a higher cost to local communities.   

Can only Owners shop here?

Who can shop at the co-op, will it be Owners only?


No! Everyone is welcome to shop at the co-op! Owners will receive the added benefits of patronage dividends and the right to get a vote in affairs of the cooperative. The co-op Board (which will be made up of and elected by Owners) will decide, as the co-op matures, what the differences and benefits will be regarding Owners and non-Owners. It is likely that, in addition to patronage dividends, Owners will be eligible for special offers and discounts.

Why become a Founding Owner now, instead of waiting for the store to open?

Why become a Founding Owner now, instead of waiting for the store to open?


We can’t move ahead without commitment from our owners. We need you to join BEFORE we open our community-owned grocery store.

Our founding owners share the vision and have and demonstrated faith and confidence in our community’s ability to make this happen. Even without an actual store where you can shop (yet!), founding owners are willing to make a tangible investment in bringing this valuable asset to our community, and we thank you for that. To recognize the important role our founding owners play in the development of the Food Shed Co-op, their names will be forever noted on a plaque in the store.

Who can be an Owner?

Who can become an Owner of the Food Shed Co-op?


Any adult (18 years and older) that resides in Illinois or Wisconsin! Ownership can be used by any adult in your household. However, multiple Owners within one household are permitted and encouraged. Each individual adult Owner gets one vote. Please see our Ownership Page for more information.

What does it mean to be an Owner?

  • You get a “Vote” in the affairs of the Cooperative, including elections of Owners to the Board of Directors
  • You can run for the Board
  • You will receive patronage dividends based on your purchases

The votes of our Owners will set the direction for Food Shed Co-op far into the future: our values, our goals, Owner benefits, and the products, programs, and services that will be offered. So even though the store isn't open YET, today’s Owners will be making key decisions — you want to be part of that!

Why do we have to pay for Ownership?

Why is there a cost for Ownership? What will be done with funds from the Ownership stock purchase?


Ownership stock purchases will be used as start up capital and later to fund store operations and improvements. Cooperatives are funded by their Owners' stock purchases, Owner loans and potentially traditional bank loans. Once the store opens and is successful, Owners who no longer want to be Owners will have the opportunity, at the Board's discretion and per the bylaws, to sell back shares, less a small administrative fee.

Is a payment plan available?


Yes! If you would like to become an Owner at the Founding Owner level we do have a payment plan option. It is one payment of $30 followed by 9 $20 monthly payments. The payments can be processed via our Donate page and all payments will be credited towards your ownership. Complete Ownership information as well as all options for payment are detailed here

Once I buy an Ownership will there be future fees?

No! Ownership is a one-time purchase. You are an Owner for life! There are no yearly dues or fees.
You always have the option to buy more Ownership shares up to the maximum, which is ten shares.


Do I need to volunteer or work at the store?


No, modern food co-ops operate as regular businesses with paid employees. There are opportunities now and prior to the store opening to volunteer to assist with various tasks but not required, becoming an Owner helping to build capital is the more important step!

What store discount will Owners get?


That is not determined yet but other regional co-ops can provide a template for what you can expect. Here are some examples:

Willy Street Coop in Madison WI http://www.willystreet.coop/join/owner-rights-and-benefits

Dill Pickle in Chicago http://dillpickle.coop/join/

Will it be all organic and GMO-free?


Currently the vision and mission is to offer significantly more organic, natural, clearly labeled, local food choices far beyond typical grocery stores. The Owners will help to determine the products sold via purchases, feedback to the General Manager and voting power to elect the Board of Directors.

Will Food Shed Co-op sell food that cannot be grown locally?

What about tropical fruits for example?


The intention is to source as many food products as locally as possible yet still provide a full selection of food comparable to a full service grocery store. Products, farmers and distributors will be selected as ethically as possible to fulfill the requirements from the owners. Ultimately all the products will be decided via feedback and purchasing power from the Owners.

What is the value of the Food Shed Co-op?


The Food Shed Co-op offers healthy food choices and the benefits of cooperation to grow a vibrant local community and more eco-friendly world. We collaborate with local farmers and suppliers to enable healthy choices by bringing sustainable products, services and education to our community.

Are there other food co-ops in IL?


Yes! There are many co-ops in IL. Some are open for business and many are organizing (just like we are).Screen_Shot_2016-03-18_at_10.12.51_PM.png